WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

What Will You Do With This?

By Robin Tanner

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
―Albert Einstein

An adult hand gently holds an infant's hand.

This was not my plan for January 1st, 2017: disheveled, wearing a pair of pajamas, and with unbrushed teeth at the pediatric urgent care in New Jersey. Picture it: twin toddlers with a terrible cough and first-time moms. I spent the night wavering between panic and fatigue while I listened to my son’s labored breathing and my wife’s blissful snoring.

The doctor came in, sizing me up quickly. She took a few stethoscope-listens, declaring, “He has croup. If he starts wheezing again, take him outside. If it’s really bad,” she looked at me over her glasses, “then bring him back.”

She is a sugar god to my son. I am the first-timer scared this is an omen for 2017, feeling adrift.

We arrive home. After unpacking for our planned mountaintop hike, I select a movie. I walk into the bathroom and turn on the shower. I notice the light rays pouring in from the window. I close my eyes, letting the rays warm my face and water fall down on me. My children are alive. I am here — mountaintop or not. This is here. And someday none of us will be.

The faces of everything I belong to — my ancestors, those I minister to and with, my children, my beloved, this sweet earth — zoom into focus. I imagine the goddess squatting, elbows on knees, asking with the tone of a wise one, “And what will you do with this?”

There is only one answer, one resolution to be given in this year with so many dimensions, privileges, injustices, betrayals, failures, and fears.

“I will be courageous. I will love deeply. I will resist. I will remember,” I whisper.

And then I’m whisked back to the practice of living. “Mom! I need you to wipe my nose NOW!”


Beloved, help me abandon the perfect — the mountaintop — for the miraculous. May I live in a belonging to the ancestors, to our children, to the prophets, to each drop and ray and breath.

About the Author

Robin Tanner

Robin Tanner is a Unitarian Universalist minister, poet, and activist who serves as the Minister of Worship and Outreach at Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit, New Jersey.


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